Sunday, October 28, 2018

Design Thinking and Law

You may have seen the Duke Law Tech Hub on the third floor of the Law Library. The Tech Hub is a space to engage with and learn about different legal technology and tools. From virtual reality to analytics to design thinking, the Hub has a little bit of everything.

Wait. What is design thinking, you ask? In short, design thinking is a problem-solving methodology for innovation. Rooted in engineering, design thinking has permeated education, business, and legal practice. More and more law firms are looking into how design thinking can help make their practice more efficient, while others adopted it long ago.

With the growing popularity and curiosity around design thinking, the Tech Hub is hosting a lunch panel on Design Thinking and the Law this Monday, Oct 29th, with two leaders in the field: Camillo Sassano, IBM Design Principal & Kevin L Schultz, IBM Hardware Design Lead. IBM has been implementing design thinking into their business model for over a decade and did research into the method's economic impact. In addition to the lunch event, there will be a design thinking exercise and software available in the Tech Hub throughout the day.

If you want to learn more about design thinking and its application, there are many eBooks in the Duke Libraries catalog to get you started. With election season in full swing, you can see how design thinking can be used to rethink the way we vote or the rule of law. Design thinking can be applied to urban planning, catalyzing social change, and restructuring your life. Try a subject or keyword search for "design thinking" to see available resources, and Ask a Librarian for help searching or accessing titles.

--Cas Laskowski, Reference Librarian and Lecturing Fellow

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Bar Association Research Benefits Reach State 50

Last week, Fastcase announced a new partnership with the California Lawyers Association. Beginning in 2019, CLA members will receive access to Fastcase as a benefit of bar association membership. This move means that bar associations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia now provide their members with access to at least one of the low-cost research services Fastcase and Casemaker. This fills in the State Bar Association Research Benefits map that the Goodson Blogson has been tracking for several years, updating a map originally developed by 3 Geeks and a Law Blog in March 2010.

Currently, 30 jurisdictions on the state-level list provide their members with free access to exclusively Fastcase; 20 states provide access to exclusively Casemaker. 1 state (Texas) provides its members with access to both services. In addition, a number of county and local bar associations have struck their own deals with the research services.

Both Fastcase and Casemaker contain U.S. federal and state case law, statutory and regulatory codes, court rules, and constitutions. Additional features vary within each service. Fastcase has increased its secondary source libraries in the last few years, offering access to publications by Loislaw and Carolina Academic Press while also launching its own Full Court Press publishing imprint. More recently, the company announced its acquisition of the Law Street Media legal news company. Casemaker partners include the CosmoLex practice management system, the memo bank, access to legal forms, and content from the vLex global law database, featuring primary and secondary legal material from more than 100 countries.

The Duke University community has access to an academic subscription version of Fastcase. Law students and faculty are also eligible to sign up for an educational version of Casemaker called CasemakerX. For information about other online research services, check out the library's research guide to Legal Research on the Web or Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Food For Fines: October 10-26

Even the most responsible library users can find themselves incurring the occasional late fee. Maybe you just needed one more day to finish that recalled book, or you were traveling, or the item was buried under a pile of other stuff. However that fine got there, if your Duke Libraries account shows an unpaid balance in the Fines/Credits/Fees section, we have some good news for you.

From Wednesday, October 10 through Friday, October 26, every library on East and West Campus at Duke University will accept "Food for Fines" to benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Each unopened, unexpired, non-perishable food item (or household good) donated will remove $1 from your library fines (up to a $25 maximum per account). You can bring the items to any campus library during the food drive – no need to travel to the specific library that charged the fine.

The chart below details the most-needed food and household items for the Food Bank:

Food Drive Most Needed Items from Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC

A few important points to know for the donation drive:
  • Limit $25 in forgiven fines per person.
  • Each donated item counts toward $1 in fines, regardless of the item's actual cost.
  • We cannot accept items in glass containers, or any expired food.
  • Any fines that were already paid or transferred to the bursar cannot be waived.
  • Waived fines only apply to late fees. Charges for damaged or lost items cannot be waived.
  • All Duke libraries are participating in the drive, and can collect donation information in order to waive fines from other Duke libraries. Bring your donations to the library that is most convenient to you, even if it isn’t the library that charged the fine on your account.

If you don't have any fines on your account, you are still very welcome to donate needed items to the food drive. The Food Bank serves a network of more than 800 agencies across 34 counties in Central and Eastern North Carolina, including soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults. If you would prefer to donate cash to this very worthy cause, you can visit Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC to make a direct donation.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Preemptive Measures

Around this halfway point of the semester, many law students are thinking about potential topics for their seminar papers, law journal notes, and/or other scholarly writing projects. In the first year at Duke Law, professors determine the topic of LARW writing assignments – after that, students are largely on their own. This can be a difficult adjustment for many, since topic selection is a critical stage of the academic writing process. Authors must find a potential topic that is both interesting and novel, and examine it from an angle that has not previously been explored in great depth by prior publications. The associated process of preemption checking can seem frustrating and overwhelming, as it often results in false starts and discarded potential topics. Fortunately, the Goodson Law Library has resources to help students navigate the maze.

Some guidebooks on academic legal writing are available in the Reserve collection, and may be borrowed for four hours at a time:

These texts all stress the importance of not only finding an original angle on a topic, but also finding a topic that deeply interests you – the process of researching and drafting a scholarly-length article is time-consuming, and finding a topic about which you are passionate will help keep your momentum.

When you have a preliminary topic idea in mind, it is important to conduct a preemption check to ensure that another author has not already covered your planned approach to the topic. While the specific sources for a preemption check may vary depending upon the topic of your paper, the following categories of works should always be consulted:
  • Already-published articles can be found in a variety of sources, including the journal and law review databases on Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and LegalTrac (generally dating back to 1981). Google Scholar and Academic Search Complete are both good options for locating both legal and non-legal articles. For historical articles, try HeinOnline and JSTOR.
  • Pre-publication articles or working papers can be searched at SSRN and Bepress Digital Commons Network, both large repositories for authors to make their work publicly accessible.
  • Books and book chapters should also be a part of your search process. Try Google Books, WorldCat, and of course the Duke Libraries Catalog for your topic keywords.
  • Dissertations and theses might eventually be republished in book format, but you can also search for more than two million unpublished dissertations in the database ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Full-text PDFs are provided for many of the indexed titles.
  • General web searching should help uncover discussion of your topic in mainstream news publications, on various blogs, and other publicly-accessible websites. Remember that you will receive different results depending upon the order of your search terms and your chosen search engine. Explore the search engine's advanced features and help documentation for guidance on forming your search.
  • Specialized legal news sources like Law360,, and Bloomberg BNA publications will generally not appear in web search results, or if they do, you will see only an introductory snippet and a login prompt. But you can search these sources directly, as well as other specialized resources that may be applicable, via our Legal Databases & Links page.

Once you feel confident that your selected topic is workable, the research process doesn't stop – you'll need to keep your research up to date. You can set alerts on the legal research services, as well as Google Alerts, the Duke Libraries Catalog, and many other sources to stay informed of new developments. For help with that process, or with any other aspect of topic selection and preemption checking, be sure to Ask a Librarian.